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Who is self-styled, controversial separatist leader Amritpal Singh, dubbed Bhindranwale 2.0?

The controversial preacher made headlines when in late February he led a sword and gun-wielding mob of supporters that attacked a police station in Ajnala.

March 18, 2023 / 07:25 PM IST
Amritpal Singh.  (Screengrab from ANI)

Amritpal Singh. (Screengrab from ANI)

Amritpal Singh, head of Waris Punjab De, is a self-styled separatist leader and Khalistan sympathiser who openly boasts about idolising slain Khalistani militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.

The controversial preacher made headlines when in late February he led a sword and gun-wielding mob of supporters that attacked a police station in Ajnala, demanding the quashing of an FIR against Amritpal and the release of his close aide. The police gave in to the pressure and the aide was released. The pictures and the clips of the mob triggered fears of the return of separatist violence in the border state.

His activities were bolstered by the steady popularity he began gaining on social media during the farmers’ protests against three farm laws that now stand repealed.

Also read: Punjab Police cracks down against radical preacher Amritpal Singh

Soon, the youth leader started preaching about being a “true Sikh” and started giving speeches about the importance for all to gain ‘shastra vidya’ or knowledge of weaponry. He has openly spoken against regional and national political parties, the Khalsa Aid, and feminist activists, among others.

The 29-year-old, who is married to an NRI, used to reside in Dubai and worked as a dispatcher in his family-owned transport business. He was enticed by the ways of protest leader Deep Sidhu and took over the reins of the organisation he constituted – Waris Punjab De – after his sudden demise in a road mishap.

However, as per reports, Sidhu’s family was quick to dissociate from Singh, who began dressing like Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and also started emulating his mannerisms; in fact, his followers often refer to him as ‘Bhindranwale 2.0’.

Also read: Behind Amritpal’s Startling Rise: Ghosts of Punjab’s traumatic past, and an equally troubled present

Singh has said, “Bhindranwale is my inspiration. I will walk the path shown by him. I want to be like him because that’s what every Sikh wants, but I am not copying him. I am not even equal to dust on his feet.”

An Indian Express report quoted Deep Sidhu’s brother Mandeep Singh Sidhu as saying: “My brother made this organisation for a social cause, to raise issues of Punjab and to provide legal aid to the needy, not to propagate Khalistan. Amritpal is talking about creating unrest in Punjab. He is befooling people using my brother’s and Khalistan’s name.”

Moneycontrol News
first published: Mar 18, 2023 06:41 pm